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To: Minister for the Environment Hon David Parker

Don't Exclude Lake Horowhenua From Freshwater Policy

Don't Exclude Lake Horowhenua From Freshwater Policy

Dear Minister,

Lake Horowhenua is a taonga. Despite it's awful treatment over decades - sewage, stormwater and other run off from the land - this is a place we treasure and have long wished to clean up.

We are asking, firmly, for you not to exclude Lake Horowhenua from your National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, due to be finalised this year.

It is a terrible precedent to set that when a lake has been polluted then we can just forget about it, let it become a dump.

This is a slippery slope that we ask you not put Aotearoa on.

Why is this important?

Lake Horowhenua near Levin is a taonga. Despite it's awful treatment over decades - sewage, stormwater and other run off from the land pouring into its water- this is a place we treasure and have long wished to clean up.

The Government is introducing new new rules for the protection of freshwater in our streams, awa (rivers) and roto (lakes). There are some really good things in the new rules, for example caps on the use of synthetic fertiliser. They also put in place greater protection measures for wetlands, as well controls on the soil and sediment allowed to enter waterways.[1]

However, we are deeply concerned that you, as Minister for the Environment, are considering leaving Lake Horowhenua out of the new rules, which would allow the lake to be polluted even further. It is clear you consider it 'too hard' to protect the health of the Lake - despite the water being so toxic that a Niwa scientist said in 2012 a small child could die if enough was swallowed. [2]

The suggestion that the Horowhenua and Pukekohe be exempted because they grow 30% of our vegetables isn’t a good enough reason, when a change in farming practices, away from overuse of fertilisers etc., could address this (and is important for our overall environmental sustainability.) In fact, we are deeply distressed and angered that there have been talks to allow this type of unsustainable farming to continue - especially as we face worsening climate change.

Lake Horowhenua deserves all the care of other lakes. The Waitangi Tribunal found in 2017 the Crown had breached Te Tiriti o Waitangi by being complicit in the pollution and environmental degradation of the lake and for you to exclude it would breach the Treaty further.

It is a terrible precedent to set that when a lake has been polluted then we can just forget about it, let it become a dump.This is a slippery slope that we urge you not to go down.

Instead, we ask that you put your full weight behind measures to clean up Lake Horowhenua and the region’s other waterways, and to progress more sustainable farming measures in both named regions. Iwi and local communities would then be able to swim in the lake and rivers again, and local farmers would be supported for meeting the best standards for healthy and sustainable practices.

We are asking you as Minister for the Environment not to exclude Lake Horowhenua from your National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, due to be finalised this year.

The questions raised by your intended actions:

Why would the Minister decide this when the lake is treasured?

Why, when no one, including hapū and iwi, were properly consulted?

Why when there is more money than ever available for storm and wastewater systems and "jobs for nature" from Government in the Covid-19 budget?

Why when we know we can do better, that even in our horticultural operations that use what they call "luxury N" - extra nitrogen that is not necessary for growing vegetables but just makes veges look extra green when they hit the shelves - can and should reduce their impact, without risking our supply of veges.

Why would the Minister do this when he knows our land can (and should for its own health) put in place better soil conservation methods - his Ministry has just done work on protecting productive land.

Why would the Minister exempt any waterway when the freshwater policy does not even put a deadline on reaching bottom lines?

Why would the Government okay this when at the same time it is spending millions on "cleaning up" the same lake?

Please, Minister Parker, we ask that you immediately include the two exempted regions (Horowhenua and Pukekohe) in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, and consult with local iwi and communities to clean up the lake and insist on more sustainable farming practices in the region.

Join us in calling for Lake Horowhenua to be included in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, along with the waterways and aquifers of Pukekohe.

References
1. Lake Horowhenua pollution exemption will not help restoration efforts, iwi says, Stuff, July 2020 https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/300056712/lake-horowhenua-pollution-exemption-will-not-help-restoration-efforts-iwi-says
2. Lake Horowhenua toxic enough to kill a child, Stuff, 2012 http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/6390665/Lake-Horowhenua-toxic-enough-to-kill-a-child

Why? When the lake is treasured. https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/118169959/where-we-used-to-swim-lake-horowhenuas-health-a-testament-to-peoplemade-pollution
Why? When no one, including hapū and iwi, were consulted. https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/300056712/lake-horowhenua-pollution-exemption-will-not-help-restoration-efforts-iwi-says
Why? When there is more money available for storm and wastewater systems from your Government. https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/122062256/new-fund-will-pave-way-for-multibillion-dollar-overhaul-of-water-sector
Why? When we know we can do better, even in our horticultural operations that use "luxury N" - extra nitrogen that is not necessary for growing vegetables but just makes veges look extra green when they hit the shelves.
Why? When our land can (and should for its own health) put in place better soil conservation methods. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12035548
Why? When the policy does not put a deadline on reaching bottom lines. https://www.mfe.govt.nz/action-for-healthy-waterways
Why? When you are spending millions on "cleaning up" the same lake! https://www.nzherald.co.nz/water/news/article.cfm?c_id=362&objectid=12346368
On breaching the Treaty https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/94246816/crown-left-horowhenuas-muaupoko-iwi-virtually-landless-breaching-treaty-of-waitangi?rm=m

Horowhenua District, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • The great memories I have of going there for family picnics, watching the remote control yachts & boats and the Jet boat races. Clean it up and bring it back to a great place for families to spend the summer days
  • I am a local. It is not acceptable for a toanga to end up like it is.
  • We need to do better, our lives depend on it.

Updates

2020-07-31 14:59:02 +1200

1,000 signatures reached

2020-07-23 08:09:09 +1200

500 signatures reached

2020-07-20 14:38:03 +1200

100 signatures reached

2020-07-20 11:54:23 +1200

50 signatures reached

2020-07-20 11:02:14 +1200

25 signatures reached

2020-07-20 10:30:55 +1200

10 signatures reached